Monthly Archive: June 2013

Do we need a better mouse trap?

What is the best mouse trap? You hear all the time in company meetings and motivational speeches alike, “let’s build a better mouse trap.” It has actually turned into a cliche. But why? Are mouse traps really that bad that someone needs to be thinking about building a better one? Or is it just the perfect item to make a joke about because it really needs no improvement?

I can’t tell. See, I think the absolutely perfect mouse trap would completely disintegrate the mouse. Turn it into energy, or a puff of perfume-laced smoke. Every mouse trap I’ve ever used – though all of them worked effectively – was imperfect in that you still had to deal with the body of the mouse when the deed was done. And that’s the part I think we all dread the most. I mean, who wants to have to touch a nasty, dirty, flea-infested, possible-rabies-carrying carcass? Not I. So let’s take a look at some of the mouse traps available on the market, and discuss the pros and cons of each.

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The Weekend in San Antonio

My red-haired wife and I spent the last weekend in San Antonio (or as my daughter says, “Sanny Tonio”) at the ISTE conference. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a conference for the International Society for Technology in Education. And as you all know, my red-haired wife and I both work for an EdTech company. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know what the ISTE was. Neither did I, until I found myself working it.

Since I started working in Design, I’ve found myself in a lot of situations like this. Travel situations, that is. Design has already sent me to New York and Minnesota. And there’s a lot more to come. My boss and I were running the Lounge section of our booth, where we were demoing our new dashboard we’ve been designing. There were several other sections of our booth where other products were being shown, and my red-haired wife was working the welcome desk, as seen in the picture below. So let me tell you about this conference center.

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New Discovery: Beer of the Month Club

Beer of the what? Seriously? Beer of the Month Club? How have I not heard of this before now? Actually maybe I had but I didn’t know what it meant. Or maybe I thought you had to go to a bar to get them. Either way, what I do know is that my ridiculously awesome and hot red-haired wife joined the Beer of the Month Club in my name for Father’s Day. Now there’s a wife who cares!

The idea of this is extremely attractive to me. So if you haven’t heard of it, you get your red-haired wife to join you up, and she can pick monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly delivery. It’s pretty expensive. If you sign up for monthly for a year, it’s upwards of $450 bucks. It ain’t cheap. But you can find coupons and save yourself a little cash on shipping and whatnot. So then they just pick two microbreweries per month and send you two varieties (three bottles) from each, for a total of four unique beers that you have probably never heard of. What’s not to love?

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Bad Design Diary: Tiny Bathroom

My wife and I are in San Antonio for a conference. We’re staying in a relatively nice hotel room. This room is actually a pretty nice suite. It has a living room area with couches and ottoman, a bar area with a special sink and a mini-fridge, and then the bedroom area which includes the vanity, the bathroom and the closet. It’s a pretty nice arrangement. Nothing wrong so far.

Until we enter the bathroom…

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The Year of Travel

When I was a child, my greatest fear was falling. I would dream about falling from a building, or a tight-wire stretched between buildings. I don’t know why I should have these dreams. I would never consider actually walking a tight-wire, but there you are. Now that I’ve grown up, my greatest fear has evolved. It’s no longer a selfish fear – a fear for myself. It’s now a fear for the safety of my children. I guess that’s every good parent’s greatest fear though. It makes me shaky and sick to think of something happening to them. I am, therefore, necessarily opposed to taking my children to New York.

It’s not that I think it’s that much more dangerous than anywhere else. Right now I live in one of the top five safest cities in the United States. So yeah, I feel pretty comfortable where I am. But it’s just that I don’t feel like I have control of anything when I’m in New York. Number one, I don’t drive a car, and probably never would in Manhattan. It seems to me to be a place where you live close to work and either walk or take public transit to get there. There aren’t a lot of parks and playgrounds for the kids. At least not where I was. It just doesn’t seem like a very kid-friendly environment. I guess maybe Queens or The Bronx would be better than Manhattan.

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Bad Design Diary: Laptop Latch

My work laptop has a button latch on the front of it. You must press in the button to open the screen. Now this is a really wide notebook, having the ten-key pad on the right side and all that, so it’s like sixteen inches wide. The problem with the button is that it’s pretty wide itself, being about and inch and a half. And the problem with that is that you must press in the whole button. Not just the left side, say, because then it will only pop the left release and the right side of the screen will still be locked.

You can probably see where I’m going with this. It takes two hands to open the screen. No, not one on the latch and one on the screen. I mean two on the screen, while a mysterious third hand presses in the button. Now it can be done with two hands total if you press it just right and lift right in the middle of the screen. However, I like to lift from both corners simultaneously, so as not to stress the screen.

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More Strange Coincidences

I like to pronounce it co – in – `SIDE – ence. I think it sounds a little more swass. Kind of like saying “shed-yule” instead of schedule makes you sound intelligent and business-like. See, saying certain words a certain way keeps people on their toes. ASS – per – AG – us is a rich way to say asparagus, for instance. See? Try them out. See what works best for you.

But speaking of coincidences, I have another couple to add to the list of weird, almost impossible coincidences I’ve experienced. Check this out. You remember the column where I talked about a couple of the crazy things that happened to me? Well here’s another one. When I first moved into this house, my washer went out. See? Crazy, huh? No seriously. It went out, so I got on craigslist, blah blah, met the woman at a storage place that ends up being RIGHT BEHIND WHERE ONE OF MY BUDDIES LIVES TODAY.

Seriously. Well, that’s not the cool coincidence part though. So I brought it home, hooked it up, and of course it doesn’t come anywhere close to matching my dryer. But who gives a shit, right? I like buying used because it helps a brother out when he needs to get rid of something. And as long as it works, and you get a good price, why the hell not? Am i rite? :shobon:

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Custom Tap Handle Alternative

Do you brew your own beer? Do you brew more than one style? Do you, therefore, occasionally rotate different styles in and out of your kegerator? Do you take enough pride in your beer to actually come up with names and labels for your delicious creations? Well, then we have a lot in common already. We should get together and share a pint sometime.

I often find myself looking for custom tap handles that I can have painted up with my beer names and labels on them. And I haven’t found a lot of options that appeal to me. Mostly what I find are cool handles with a square at the top where you slide a printed piece of paper into a plastic sleeve for your “custom” tap handle. Or another popular one is the one with a small black square chalkboard at the top where you write your beer name in chalk. Yawn. No, I want something a little more customized. Well, not finding what I wanted, I improvised. Now I’m going to show you what I did.

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